Oven-Roasted Olives

ovenolives1 In recent years, a slew of upscale pizza places have sprouted up to sate the ever-growing yuppie appetite for $13 (or $15, or $20) pies. Just look at Manhattan and Brooklyn: they're bursting with fancy pizza points, from the old-school Lombardi's and my favorite Grimaldi's to the newer Roberta's and Co., dreamt up by the breadmaster Jim Lahey. Washington is following suit, in its own more muted way, and by now we've actually got a few great spots for the ultimate Neapolitan treat.

One such spot, Two Amys, is a standby in this house. We pop over there at least once a month, and by now we're buddy-buddy with a waitress, we know our favorite wine on the menu, and we've even found a bus that takes us, literally, from door to door.

We go to Two Amys for pizza, but two other things on the menu are just as much of a draw: the suppli -- fried balls of risotto laced with tomato sauce, with some piping hot mozzarella in the center -- and the oven-roasted olives. Granted, D has no interest in the olives (in olives of any kind, for that matter -- but I'll say, they're one of the cheapest appetizers in town. For $4.95, you get a large bowl of olives roasted with really good olive oil, spices, and maybe some garlic. The little jewels simply burst in your mouth. They even come with a couple slices of crusty bread to soak up all that olive oil deliciousness (if you've got room, between the soupli and the pizza).


After two years of snacking on these olives, I finally came to my senses and realized that, with minimal effort, I could whip some up at home. I browsed my usual cache of websites for some inspiration, but it turns out that recipes were altogether unnecessary. I simply took out a rimmed sheet pan, drizzled it with some olive oil, and into the olive oil I scattered a mix of olives -- picholine, manzanilla, and kalamata, in my case, but any will do. Overtop go any mix of fresh and dried herbs that suits your fancy. I used several sprigs of fresh thyme, some dried basil and oregano, and lots of freshly-cracked black pepper. I threw in a couple slices of lemon as well, for some much-needed acidity.

...Um, did you expect more steps? Sorry to disappoint you. Pop the whole thing in a 350-degree (or other temperature if you're cooking something else) oven for about 15ish minutes until olives are soft and bursting. Serve warm with crusty bread.